Haroon Mirza at the Zabludowicz Collection

This exhibition featured 4 large scale installations which question the viewers understanding of the “relationship between matter and consciousness, truth and belief”*. For me, the most significant piece was “9/11 – 11/9 Fear of the Unknown” which consisted of a circle of speakers and screens surrounding a circular rug which invited the viewer to sit and become completely immersed in the sounds and imagery. Along one wall coloured lights flashed next to a potted plant.






The best way I can describe this installation is as a ‘sensory smash’. The sounds and images at fist seem completely disconnected, however, the longer you are immersed in the piece the stronger the feeling that there is some kind of link between everything that is being thrown at you. There is a sense almost of subliminal messaging; a kind of hypnosis whereby something ungraspable is being fed into your mind. At some points the noise verges on musical and the related clips become a kind of choreography. However, I find it intriguing that each viewer would pick up on different elements – perhaps I only felt as if I was being fed a message because I assumed that there must be some kind of link between what I was seeing/hearing. You could just as easily view it as a collection of isolated stimuli.

The recurring political / scientific references; the viewer-encompassing  layout; the name of the piece; and small elements that link every component (e.g wires, timing etc) do make me think that Mirza’s intent was to raise questions about particular topics/issues and that it isn’t simply a ‘random’ selection.

This prompted me to think further about the influence of the artist. To what extent can they manipulate the viewers thoughts: creating work with no meaning that encourages viewer to create meaning? Planting specific thoughts whilst allowing the viewer to feel as if they have come up with something?



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